News Briefs: Escape costs prisoner transport firm $80,000
Editor's note: The following is a collection of news briefs from Forum Communication newspapers in North Dakota and Minnesota.
Escape costs prisoner transport firm $80,000
BISMARCK – A prisoner transport company that allowed a sex offender to escape from one of its vans in 2011 in Barnes County has agreed to pay $70,000 to reimburse authorities and farmers who used combines to flush Joseph Matthew Megna from a cornfield.
U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon, who announced the settlement Monday, said Extradition Transport of America LLC also agreed to pay a $10,000 civil penalty.
Purdon said it was the first lawsuit filed under the Interstate Transportation of Dangerous Criminals Act of 2000, also known as Jeanna’s Act in reference to 11-year-old Jeanna North of Fargo, who was murdered in 1993 by Kyle Bell.
After being sentenced to life in prison, Bell escaped in October 1999 from a private prisoner transport bus and was apprehended three months later.
Megna was being transported from Florida to Washington to face a child molestation charge on Oct. 4, 2011, when he escaped from the ETA van at an Interstate 94 rest stop near Tower City and fled into a cornfield. The Barnes County Sheriff’s Office eventually rounded up a group of local farmers with combines to take down the corn, and Megna surrendered shortly after the harvest began.
West Fargo named N.D. ‘City of the Year’
BISMARCK – West Fargo has been named the best city in the state this year.
The North Dakota League of Cities gave West Fargo its 2013 City of the Year award at the league’s annual conference here Saturday.
West Fargo’s rapid growth of its school system, industrial park and subdivisions were cited as some of the reasons for the award, according to a press release from the North Dakota League of Cities.
West Fargo Mayor Rich Mattern accepted the award Saturday night.
“There are many plaques hanging on the wall in City Hall, but this is the best,” Mattern is quoted as saying. “We’ve had tremendous growth, and our success is due to our city employees.”
Jury selection starts in Duluth synthetic drug case
MINNEAPOLIS -- Jury selection in the case of a Duluth business owner accused of selling illegal drugs begins today, with U.S. District Court Judge David S. Doty acknowledging it may be hard to find jurors who are unaware of the Last Place on Earth head shop, even in Minneapolis.
Jim Carlson is charged with 55 federal offenses in connection with the sale of synthetic drugs at the downtown Duluth business. His girlfriend, Lava Haugen, and son, Joseph Gellerman, also are named on some of the charges. The three are being tried together, which is standard in federal cases.
In addition to charges related to selling and distributing controlled substances, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is trying the case on federal labeling laws.
Once a jury is seated, attorneys will make opening statements. The prosecution’s first witnesses might be called before the day is over.
The sides agreed to tell the jury the case should last about three weeks. Proscecutors said it would take about two weeks to call about 30 witnesses. The defense expects to need two or three days.
It’s likely that the defendants will take the stand, attorneys said.
Living wage hearing in Willmar
WILLMAR, Minn. – A legislative committee will be taking testimony from workers about “living wage jobs” and a proposal to increase the minimum wage during a hearing Thursday in Willmar.
The hearing will be at 1 p.m. in the Health and Human Services Building, 2200 23rd St. NE.
The bipartisan select committee on living wage jobs, which is made up of seven members of the Minnesota House of Representatives, has been touring the state and posing the question, “How is Minnesota’s economy working for you?”
The legislature is considering increasing the minimum wage and legislators want to know how this would impact workers’ families, said committee Chairman Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley..
Anyone who wants to testify should contact committee administrator Matthew Bergeron at 651-296-5413 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Individuals can also follow the Select Committee on Twitter @livingwagejobmn.
Woman gets 30 years for stabbing death
DULUTH -- A Marquette, Mich., woman received the maximum guideline prison sentence Monday for fatally stabbing a Duluth woman in June.
Nicole Leone Revello, 30, pleaded guilty June 28 to intentional second-degree murder in the June 2 death of 46-year-old Lisa Kay Davis. Judge Eric Hylden gave Revello a 367-month sentence, more than 30 years, the maximum guideline sentence for someone with no prior criminal history.
Several members of Davis’ family were present at the sentencing. Two of them spoke about the loss of their daughter and mother before Hylden sentenced Revello.
“Nothing will bring my daughter back,” Davis’ mother, Marge Shoots, said. “I could hate Ms. Revello, but I don’t.”
Revello apologized and said the June 2 stabbing never would have happened if she wasn’t under the influence of synthetic drugs at the time.
Revello had agreed to a 367-month sentence when she pleaded guilty. She will serve at least two-thirds of the time in prison and the remainder on supervised release. She will receive credit for 107 days spent in jail.